Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Seeking balance is an ongoing activity. In finding balance, whether that be in our daily lives, such as a work/life balance, or in our minds, balanced moods, it seems that this state of being is commonly sought after.
When I first considered this topic I thought only of the positive side of balance; calm, contentment, safety, evenness. Sounds lovely right? But when delving further into the meaning I began to wonder is it always positive to seek balance or could it actually hold us back?
Feeling a sense of balance in our lives can translate into a sense of wellbeing and calm, but if we remain in this state constantly are we in danger of not progressing? Perhaps, like happiness, we should seek moments of balance but allow ourselves a little time on the proverbial wobble board on occasion to ensure we are getting the most out of our experiences, growing and getting stronger. As a gymnast might use a physical wobble board for strength exercises, perhaps we need a mental wobble board to encourage strength of mind and give us the power to tackle challenges and keep life moving forward. Considering the chaos that can come from imbalance, perhaps what we need is a technique on how to return to balance when life throws us a curveball.
The wobble board analogy may also fit our working lives. Currently there is much discussion around workers heading back to office following the roll out of the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme. How does it make you feel to be expected back in the office after what may have been over a year of getting used to working from home? We are creatures of habit and our working habits were forcibly altered when the pandemic hit. Now we are at a time when, for a lot of people, the new habits we developed of working from home are being shot out of balance again. Perhaps you developed a new routine when working from home and worked on getting it right to serve both your wellbeing and your work output. That’s now potentially having to change again and it may not be as simple as slipping back into your old office routine. Perhaps you didn’t like the old routine which means this step back into office life may require some work to get the balance right.
What we could do both in our personal and working lives is build a stable and safe base from which we can launch into less balanced situations and feelings when either necessary, i.e. for work, or when we feel strong enough to take on a new challenge.
How can we do this? One way to begin is to consider what activities, places or people make you feel at ease and balanced in yourself and attach a metaphorical bungee cord to these bases. This way, when you launch into the unknown or take on a new challenge you know you’ve got your bungee cord attached to your safe and stable base so no matter how frightening and unbalanced the task makes you feel you know there is a simple way back. Our bodies are constantly attempting to reach homeostasis, “the tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium”, and if we think about wellbeing, perhaps our minds are also attempting this.
Our partner Minds Anonymous published an article from an anonymous contributor using a similar theory to explain what it’s like having Bipolar disorder: https://mindsanonymous.com/bipolar-the-bungee-experience/. But you don’t need to suffer with this condition for the analogy to work. In the article, the writer explains how they can sit on a secure platform when well and when unwell they fling themselves off, but always attached via a bungee cord to the safety of their platform. In a similar way we can consider that balance is when we are sat on our platform, safe, secure and un-harassed. But life can’t be spent atop such a beautiful platform. Life comes with challenges, ups and downs and we need to feel we can tackle what we are faced with, want to take on or try as we go through.
Developing a sense of wellbeing does not necessarily mean always feeling we are in a balanced place, but perhaps the key to wellbeing is having the control and ability to return to such a place, with confidence, when things get overwhelming. Putting in techniques to get our bodies and minds back to homeostasis after facing a challenge or fear can give us the freedom to take on such challenges safe in the knowledge whatever risk or fear we are facing, it is only a temporary discomfort and the reward of getting back to balance once we’ve faced it is a greater sense of self, strength and wellbeing.